Companies specializing in big and bulky consumer products — e.g., furniture, water heaters, washers and dryers, lawn mowers, etc. — understand why product movements throughout the supply chain can plague both the manufacturer and distributor.
The costs associated with transportation, damage, and packaging can add up quickly and hinder bottom line growth. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
The right packaging design can significantly reduce the aforementioned cost drivers and create high levels of satisfaction for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike. Here are a few points to consider when looking to reduce damage and overall supply chain costs:
- Conduct a touch point analysis: An evaluation of this nature allows a company to track how the product makes its way through the entire supply chain. Experienced packaging engineers should carefully analyze manufacturing line constraints, current packaging design, handling methods, transportation modes, and final destination logistics to fully understand the functional requirements of the protective packaging needed for a given product.
- Utilize testing protocols for your packaging solutions: As a manufacturer, evaluating your product load sharing and shipping simulation-based testing protocols to establish a performance baseline allows you to determine how a new solution should be engineered. Then determine how to design the optimal solution for your product(s).
For distribution partners, gaining a clear understanding and alignment of the testing protocols your manufacturing partners utilize will allow you to understand and possibly adjust your own operations (i.e., receiving, handling, and storage) as needed in order to help reduce damage costs, delayed sales, etc. within your own network.
- Extra packaging does not always equal better results: For manufacturers experiencing high levels of damage, it becomes easy to rely upon an overbuilt packaging solution. These designs are typically built with heavy use of internal foam or corner posts for strength, all in hopes of guaranteeing protection from damage during transit and distribution. Unfortunately, packaging solutions of this design often result in poor space utilization, requiring additional truckloads and warehousing space that significantly increase costs. When possible, it is best to leverage your products inherent strengths to minimize packaging.
In some instances, packaging solutions which eliminate 100% of the foam, reduced corrugated material, and utilize fewer components can be just as effective without compromising the integrity of the product.
As packaging engineers, we have found that in some instances, packaging solutions which eliminate 100% of the foam, reduced corrugated material, and utilize fewer components can be just as effective without compromising the integrity of the product. These designs can offer easier handling, safer stacking, and an overall smaller footprint, creating increased shipping efficiencies and storage density improvements, all while delighting the end consumer that they have minimal packaging to dispose of after they install your product.
Furthermore, we have seen companies realize millions of dollars in annualized savings from material reduction, labor improvements, and increased transportation efficiency by incorporating the right packaging solution. If your organization is seeking ways to reduce costs associated with your big and bulky products but are unsure of where to begin, enlist the expertise of certified packaging professionals to point you in the right direction.
Rich Lindgren is a Sr. Manager in the Packaging Optimization practice at Chainalytics. He holds lifetime Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) accreditation from the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) and has extensive experience with both packaging optimization and supply chain cost reduction projects.